You’ll have noticed a theme here on Girls Heart Books – lots of us like to share our writing trials, tribulations and triumphs with you. It’s a long and lonely process writing a book, and we are always keen to let you know that we really are busy producing something, not just lying around on the sofa and eating sugared plums. (Well, sometimes we do that too, but only if there is a good George Clooney film on Netflix.)
Today I wanted to share with you the bane of the writer’s life – the Plot Hole. You may remember that I’ve been writing a new book, and I finished the first draft a few weeks ago. Then I read it all through and noticed a few tiny inconsistencies, mostly in the timeline. Not too much of a problem, I thought, I’ll just run through it all again and make a note of when things happen, then I’ll fix them and that’ll be it.
Oh, if only it had been that easy.
I started jotting down any detail in each chapter which gave a clue about time passing – was it the next day or next week, was it frosty and therefore winter, were there Christmas decorations in the shops? I went all the way through – all thirty-three chapters and 105,000 words – and looked at when things were supposed to be happening, and when they actually did.
By the time I’d finished my plot looked like a sieve it was so full of holes. And it wasn’t just the timeline – other massive errors became apparent too (How often do most toddlers learn to walk? Just the once, eh? Not in my book!). And over one six-month period which lasted from March to – you guessed it – March, my characters slogged their way through an unremitting winter. Then one of them burned something which was consulted about 50 pages later. All of this is going to take some considerable fixing, particularly the dates, as I have to decide whether the actual day is an important part of a particular section, or if it can be changed. After many evenings spent scratching my head, I’ve ended up with a huge table containing information about each chapter, the elapsed time, and the things which absolutely can’t move. It all seems to make sense. All I have to do now is work out what needs to change in the text, rewrite all those bits, and hope that while I’m doing that, I don’t introduce too many more errors.
Then once I’ve filled the holes and polished and buffed the whole thing to a high shine, I’ll hand it over and the editor will find loads more of them to fix. And when I’ve fixed them, it might be ready.
And having done all that, hopefully, when the readers get to read it, they won’t stop and think “Hang on, it says today is Thursday but yesterday was Monday!”. When you’re reading a story you need to be able to immerse yourself in the world, and any details like that which are wrong can flick you right out of it. It’s why we all try so hard to fill those holes.
And it’s good to know that none of us is immune to it…. J